What is a parenting plan? It’s an arrangement that principally determines a child’s physical living arrangements after the parents’ divorce. It also details who cares for a child’s needs. This plan is put in place by a family court judge after child custody and divorce settlements are finished. However, parents may feel the need to change the parenting plan in some cases, like in the instance of a career change or other major happening in either the child or the parent’s life.
If you think changing an existing parenting plan is crucial, you must file a petition for modifying it with the family court. You must then serve your co-parent with the petition and a notice of a court hearing. The court will determine if a change is warranted. Verbal changes to a parenting plan are not lawful.
In the state of Colorado, altering a parenting plan may be permitted under several circumstances. These include:
- If both parties agree to the change
- If the child is assimilated into one parent’s family with the agreement of the other parent
- If the party with whom the child currently lives with the majority of the time is moving out of state or to a place significantly further from the other spouse
- If the current arrangement threatens the emotional or physical well being of the child
Modifying a parenting plan is not always an easy procedure. That’s because the family court judge assumes the existing parenting plan is already in the child’s best interest.
Making modifications may also be time-consuming and expensive. The judge will first determine if the proposed alterations would help or harm the child, and choose the situation that would be least damaging to them. This means the proposed modifications will only be granted by the judge if it can be determined they are for the best interest of the child. If these changes are not thought beneficial for the child, then they will not be granted.
You must be ready to present any paperwork or documents that show the change in circumstance, and explain how these changes will work appropriately for the new situation. These documents may include new activity or school schedules, evidence of a new job or relocation, or documentation revealing unfit behavior of the other parent.
If both parties largely agree about changing the existing parenting time arrangements, then it is likely that the court will go along with a modified parenting plan. If both parents find it difficult to agree on modifications, then undergoing mediation or seeing a family counselor may be needed.
Remember, too, that a significant modification resulting in the changing of the primary custodial parent may only be made once every two years.